Terry Stoops chronicles the sudden reversal of News & Observer columnist Barry Saunders, who folded faster than Superman on laundry day after staking out an actually thoughtful position on diversity.

Saunders wrote (emphasis added):

Learning doesn’t occur by osmosis. That’s a word I learned while attending all-black Leak Street School in Rockingham and a fact I learned after the school was integrated. The single-minded fervor with which [Rev. William] Barber’s North Carolina NAACP is opposing what it calls the Wake County school board’s anti-diversity policy, though, makes it seem that the only way poor, brown or black kids can learn is by sitting next to kids who are whiter or richer than they.

Baloney. Saying, as Barber recently did, that black students in Wayne County are being subjected to an “apartheid education system” does no good.

Such overheated rhetoric only causes board members who have no regard for anyone’s children but their own and those like their own to become defensive and equally hyperbolic.

The invariable result is a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Barber contacted Saunders, who dutifully changed his tune (emphasis added):

In suggesting that state NAACP President William Barber focus more of his prodigious energy into properly educating black and poor kids than in making sure they sit next to wealthier, whiter kids, I unintentionally gave the impression that I, like many of my newfound supporters, oppose diversity.

Saunders had just cited readers who told him they liked his column, so he had to throw them under the bus as part of his repentance. Later he wrote:

I did accuse Barber of hyperbole for saying that poor, black students in Wayne County are being educated under “apartheid” conditions, but after talking to him and seeing the statistics there, the dude has a point.

Ipse dixit. He falls from a defensible position to one that he himself knows is so weak that he cannot even defend it. He must repent of the entire column, you see, so Barber must get a pass on calling the Wayne County schools an apartheid system.

The sainted status quo in Wake County was deplorable, however, when it came to serving the system’s minority students, as the recent SAS report showed. In fact, the Wake County school system is worse than the Wayne County system. Consider:

By virtually every measure, Wayne County matches or outperforms Wake County when it comes to student achievement among the disadvantaged. According to the most recent state test scores:

• About 49 percent of Wayne County students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch – the standard for disadvantaged used in public schools – scored at grade level on their reading and math tests. The comparable share of Wake County students was 44 percent. The passing rates for black students was about the same in each county, 45.5 percent in Wayne and 45.2 percent in Wake.

• Among high-school students, the average passing rate on end-of-course tests among disadvantaged students in Wayne was 60.4 percent, vs. 58.5 percent for Wake. Black students in Wake did do slightly better than Wayne on those tests, however.

Remember, Wayne is the “apartheid” system that the state NAACP demands to change. Wake is worse than that “apartheid” system, and the state NAACP demands to stay the same. It’s no wonder Saunders got turned around.

Apparently afraid to offer any more of his own opinion, Saunders turned the final four paragraphs over to Barber, uttering only a chastized “Amen” at the conclusion. Barber of course used the space to talk about “reactionaries on the Wake school board” who “want segregated schools.”

As we have seen time and time again since October, that is the only Proper Message allowed. It cannot be tolerated that thoughtful parents and individuals surveyed the demonstrable problems in Wake County and decided upon a different path. They must all be smeared as racists who just really want resegregation.